Role of alpha-toxin in Clostridium perfringens infection determined by using recombinants of C. perfringens and Bacillus subtilis

M. Ninomiya, Osamu Matsushita, J. Minami, H. Sakamoto, M. Nakano, A. Okabe

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Clostridium perfringens type A strains which differed in alpha-toxin (phospholipase C [PLC]) productivity were inoculated intraperitoneally or intravenously into mice, and then their 50% mouse lethal doses (LD50) were determined. Strain NCTC 8237 produced ninefold higher PLC activity than strain 13. The mean LD50 for the former was 1 log unit lower than that for the latter. Two isogenic strains were constructed from strain 13: strain 13(pJIR418α) (pJIR418α contains the plc gene), which produced ninefold higher PLC activity than strain 13; and strain 13 PLC-, which showed no PLC productivity at all because of transformation-mediated gene disruption. The mean LD50 for strain 13(pJIR418α) was 1 log unit lower than those for strain 13 PLC- and strain 13. These results indicate that PLC functions as a virulence-determining factor when it is produced in a sufficient amount. Such a difference in LD50 was also observed between Bacillus subtilis with and without the cloned plc gene. Inoculation of B. subtilis PLC+ intravenously into mice caused marked thrombocytopenia and leukocytosis. Mice inoculated with B. subtilis at 2 LD50 died because of circulatory collapse. Histological examination revealed that intravascular coagulation and vascular congestion occurred most prominently in the lungs. These results suggest that PLC plays a key role in the systemic intoxication of clostridial myonecrosis, probably by affecting the functions of platelets and phagocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5032-5039
Number of pages8
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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